How to use Gamification in online market research

How to use Gamification in online market research

DigitalMR recently won the Ovum Enterprise Gamification Award and so I was inspired to write a blog post about it. Gamification is a term often misunderstood for bringing excitement to an old activity (usually a boring activity) by weaving it into an online game. While this is close, it actually means to borrow gaming techniques, such as the award of badges or points and the passing of a stage in a game, to motivate people to do something. The mere fact that people will be visibly ranked on an online community enhanced by the award of privileges - in other words, a little harmless competing - can be quite motivating.

How to use it to motivate members of private online communities

Private online communities can help brands with co-creation, consumer insights and advocacy; they can be used as a Facebook app, integrated on a website or used independently. They should include tools that enable customer engagement such as: online focus groups, bulletin boards, video diaries, chat groups, surveys, polls etc. The members of a community are motivated through intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to join and participate: the intrinsic motivation is amplified through gamification. The users receive points, badges, recognition and benefits if: they start new conversations, respond to comments from other users or discussion facilitators, participate in activities and if they refer new members to join the community.

Business Value

Using an engagement platform for user generated content (which can be used in multiple short-term and long-term projects), deep consumer insights can be gathered by connecting the dots between web listening and using known online market research techniques; co-creation of: concepts, products, packaging and communications are some of the specific objectives that can be met. A brand benefits immensely by having a few hundreds of its users – especially when they are motivated through a higher purpose and gamification - to guide its every step.

Balanced Use of Social, Reputation and Game Mechanics

The members of the communities are recruited from multiple sources including social media -based on comments expressed and demographics. Through the use of activities such as: surveys which should employ animated entertaining questions or video diaries, -from which ethnographic data can be collected that reveal invaluable insights that cannot be extracted by just asking questions- each activity member receives redeemable points.

Understanding of non-technology issues

Research on research has been used to identify the ideal size of communities for insights and co-creation, being 150-1000, depending on objectives. A higher purpose has to be offered to prospective members in order to join, such as: “you are invited into the inner-circle of brand X to help develop next generation products; you will be part of an exclusive community with like-minded people where you can engage, contribute and have fun”. Data privacy details and terms and conditions with Dos and Don’ts, need to be established and published on the communities and be part of the recruitment process.


The deployment plan must include customized training for the online community managers and the discussion facilitators. The prospective members are screened for specific criteria and are offered incentives in order to join. The points (won for activities) can be redeemed with: cash, Amazon vouchers, contribution to charities or participation in prize draws.

Roadmap for avoiding engagement decay

With a good online community manager and adequate use of gamification, one should be able to achieve attrition of 3-5% per month whilst without, the equivalent churn of members could be up to 30% per month. When community members are recruited from consumer panels online, we found that many are in it just for the money and the quality of participation is low. The product category for which the community is recruited also plays a role in engagement; for example a community of soap users, may be less engaged than one with mums discussing their children.

Outcomes and Results to be expected

In developed markets the intrinsic motivation (higher purpose) is of paramount importance: in developing markets extrinsic motivation (i.e. money) still has a high impact. Overall, community members that do not just participate for the money are: more engaged, stay longer and provide higher value to the company that owns the community. The smaller the size of the community the better the engagement and the feeling of togetherness and collaboration there is. Members take pride in their contributions but they need to be frequently told what the company is doing with their feedback: most importantly, they need to be able to see their name on that member ranking and next to it, labelled….’the Mayor or the General of the community’, in true gamification style.


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